Congressional leadership announced formally on Friday that the House would vote on a cannabis legalization bill in September.
James Enos Clyburn, the Majority Whip (D-SC) confirmed in a mass email to members that the chamber is expected to debate the MORE Act (Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement) in the September period. This is despite the floor vote having not yet been scheduled.
The bill was first introduced by Jerrold Nadler, Judiciary Committee Chairman (D-NY) last year after which it cleared the committee and was pushed forward to other committees. However, it is not yet known if the committees in question will relinquish jurisdiction or markup the proposed bill for it to get a majority vote.
The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement Act would suspend marijuana’s illegality, annul records of individuals who had been convicted for cannabis and levy a 5% governmental tax on its sales. The revenue collected would be used to revive communities that have been the most affected by the ongoing drug war.
The Act would in addition make way for the resentencing of those who had been imprisoned for cannabis crimes, and prohibit government agencies from refusing security clearances or public benefits to individuals because of using cannabis.
Additionally, the act would offer protection for immigrants who may be denied citizenship over marijuana.
In the email, the Majority Whip requests the lawmakers to brief him by Monday if they plan on supporting the bill on the floor.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), who is a chief advocate for marijuana reform in Congress, recently stated in an interview that the marijuana legalization bill was a chance to stop the prohibition policy that had reigned for a lengthy period of time, over which selective enforcement was practiced against many BIPOC’s, mostly black men.
He also added that there was a significant urgency to this bill, given the protests of racial injustice throughout the country. He explained that Congress seizing the opportunity to align marijuana laws with the wants of the majority of the Americans would be historic, thus assuring that restorative justice was implemented.
Earlier this month, House leadership received a letter from major civil rights and drug policy organizations such as the NAACP, American Civil Liberties Union, Drug Policy Alliance (“DPA”) and the Human Rights Watch. The letter demanded a floor vote before the end of September on the MORE Act.
Policy manager for DPA, Queen Adesuyi also added that the advancement of this bill met this political moment’s principles, adding that the House Democrats now had the opportunity to pass a bill that enjoyed bipartisan support while also responding to calls for racial justice and justice reform resounding in the country.
Marijuana industry actors like Pac Roots Cannabis Corp. (CSE: PACR) are likely to follow the House proceedings keenly since history may be in the making with regard to marijuana policy.
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